Endowment of Tears, Hope for Reconciliation: Georgetown Prep and Slavery

The exhibit, Endowment of Tears, Hope for Reconciliation: Georgetown Preparatory School and Slavery, first opened in May 2018 as part of Georgetown Prep’s Year of Reconciliation. It was displayed again in February—March 2020, and is now being presented virtually as part of Prep’s commitment to educate its students about the reality of slavery in the school’s history. 

The exhibit is based on documents and illustrations from the Booth Family Center for Special Collections at Georgetown University, the Georgetown University Archives, the on-line Georgetown Slavery Archive, and the Georgetown Preparatory School Archives. It explores the pivotal role that slavery played in establishing, maintaining, and, through the 1838 sale of 272 enslaved persons owned by the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, financially rescuing Georgetown College and its largest constituent element, the Preparatory Department.  

The more than 300 slaves on the Maryland farms and those at Georgetown College constituted a living endowment of tears — coerced benefactors of both Georgetown University and Georgetown Prep.  The exhibit focuses on enslaved persons of the same age as current Prep students. It invites the viewer to consider how best to seek reconciliation with the memory of the enslaved and with their descendants. A final segment of the exhibit highlights Prep’s first African-American students, Board members, and the late Headmaster, Jeffrey L. Jones, all of whom over the years played trailblazing roles in creating a more open, welcoming, and diverse Prep community that, like our nation, is still a work in progress.

To view the exhibit in full screen, click the 3 lines in the top right corner to access full screen mode.